Susan Sarandon questioned her religion.

Susan Sarandon questioned her religion

Susan Sarandon said that as a child, she had many questions about religion — questions that got her into trouble and ultimately made her rethink her relationship with religion as an adult. She said some of the Catholic teachings she never understood and she shared what happened when she asked innocent questions to better understand her religion.

She said, “I was a very quiet kid, a very wanting-to-please kid.But certain things didn’t make sense to me and when I questioned them, there was a problem.”

The religious teachings Sarandon questioned was the rule that marriage must take place in the Catholic Church. She wanted to know how Joseph and Mary were married, since Jesus didn’t make it up until later. She got punishment for questioning religion. She had to go stand in the hallway. She was in third grade.

Sarandon was looking for answers that made sense to her. She said “I was not trying to be a wise-ass, I just didn’t understand why they would put babies in limbo just because they weren’t baptized..Why would they say every other religion was bad. I think that all religions at their core have some really magnificent teachings, and most of them are very similar. It’s the institutionalization of these religious principles that don’t serve me well.”

And what do I think? I think all the magnificent teachings religion have are not owned by religion. Those teachings or ethic code or morality already exited in every society before religion was created. Religion just hijacked those teachings without mentioning the source. We should give credits to the philosophers and wise men/women of ancient society for those magnificent teachings. Let’s read some of ancient teachings or the golden rule that existed long before religion.

Ancient China

The Golden Rule existed among all the major philosophical schools of Ancient China: Mohism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Examples of the concept include:

“Zi Gong asked, saying, “Is there one word that may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not reciprocity such a word?” – Confucius
“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” – Confucius
“If people regarded other people’s families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself.” – Mozi
“The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.” –Laozi
“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” –Laozi

Ancient Egypt

An early example of the Golden Rule that reflects the Ancient Egyptian concept of Maat appears in the story of The Eloquent Peasant, which dates to the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BC): “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” An example from a Late Period (c. 664 BC – 323 BC) papyrus: “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”

Ancient Greece

The Golden Rule in its prohibitive form was a common principle in ancient Greek philosophy. Examples of the general concept include:

“Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him.” – Pittacus (c. 640–568 BC)
“Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.” – Thales (c. 624 BC – c. 546 BC)
“What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either. ” – Sextus the Pythagorean. The oldest extant reference to Sextus is by Origen in the third century of the common era.
“Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others.” – Isocrates (436–338 BC)
“What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others.” – Epictetus
“It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing ‘neither to harm nor be harmed’), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.” – Epicurus
“…it has been shown that to injure anyone is never just anywhere.” – Socrates, in Plato’s Republic. Plato is the first person known to have said this.

Ancient Rome

Seneca, maybe following Publilius Syrus, told “ab alio expectes alteri quod feceris” (expect from others what you did to them) and “non est quod credas quemquam fieri aliena infelicitate felicem” (it is not so, as you might believe, that one is made happy through the unhappiness of others).

The good teachings do not belong to religion, some of the bad teachings against humanity and some of the lies and ignorance about the universe do.


  1. Corvus illustris says

    It can be argued that the notion of repaying others’ evil by doing good to them–which occurs in both Christian testaments, and probably in many other places–represents a higher ethical order than both versions of the golden rule. On the other hand, Rm 12,20:

    If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head

    suggests also a certain worldly wisdom–at least when thine enemy has a sense of shame.

  2. katzenklavier says

    The inability of the myth-obsessed to fathom any notion of morality apart from their authoritarian dogma has long troubled me.

    Thanks for the citations that give heft to argument in opposition to the narrow, Abrahamic worldview.

  3. abusedbypenguins says

    Small animals understand this. Pet a cat or dog and you get a purr and a lick. Hit one and you get claw, fang and they want nothing more to do with you. I respect and treat all creatures the same.

  4. Good says

    This is weird. Every one of those ancient societies you present practiced a religion. Religion has existed as long as man has existed, so there really is no “before religion”. We all know that religion existed at the latest with the beginning of behavioral modernity which came about 50,000 years ago and there is some evidence that it existed up to 300,000 years ago..

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